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New Target for Tumor-Killing Drugs Found

Scientists identify molecule necessary for survival of cancerous cells

THURSDAY, Feb. 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- New research offers evidence that a particular molecule may provide a target for the development of drugs to treat a wide variety of tumors, including some that are resistant to conventional therapies.

The research, published online in Cancer Cell, found that the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R) is necessary for the survival of tumor cells and that using selective small molecules to inhibit IGF-1R may be a potential anticancer treatment.

Many previous studies have suggested that IGF-1R is a factor in cancer development in humans. IGF-1R is present in a broad range of tumor types. But it hasn't been regarded as a likely target for cancer drugs because many normal cells also contain IGF-1R.

In this new research, scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research Basel demonstrated that inhibiting IGF-1R had powerful effects against many kinds of cancer cells grown in the laboratory.

The scientists also identified two small molecules that are selective inhibitors of IGF-1R. These molecules offer potential for drug development.

"These results suggest that IGF-1R function is critically required for tumor cell survival, but dispensable for survival of normal cells in adult animals," study author Dr. Constantine S. Mitsiades says in a prepared statement.

"The preclinical activity of IGF-1R inhibitors against a broad spectrum of tumor cells and, importantly, their ability to sensitize tumor cells to a wide range of anticancer agents, highlight the major role of IGF-1R signaling for human malignant cells, and suggest that the molecular pathway of IGF-1R is an attractive potential target for development of anticancer therapies," Mitsiades says.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about cancer treatments.

SOURCE: Cell Press, news release, Feb. 26, 2004
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